You decide to create an open collaborative culture at work, but when you first ask for feedback from the team, all you hear is crickets chirping. No one wants to open up. But you keep sharing information and you continue to solicit employee feedback. Soon everyone is opening up.
You’re knee deep in an idea avalanche. Phyllis thinks Mondays should be a day off and everyone should work four tens. Reginald wants to put in a game room so he can show off his foosball skills. Seymour thinks the health benefits are stingy, but he came up with a great new idea for selling widget scrap in the southeast division. He also wants to start a book club focused entirely on vampire romance. Everybody is yearning for company support for their ideas.
Soon you get the comment, “You asked for my ideas and now you’re not using them?”
Wait a minute Seymour… An open culture means all ideas are solicited, many are considered, some are tabled, and a few are implemented immediately. Ideas go through a Darwinian process. Only the fittest survive.
With that in mind, here is a methodical way to consider employee feedback:
1. Expectation – Make it clear you are open to all feedback, but feedback will be judged on quality of the idea, clarity of thought, and how well the feedback was communicated. Clearly communicated substantive ideas rise to the top.
2. Evaluation – Evaluate how well the idea lines up with current plans and strategies. Some ideas are great but are before their time or are not realistic given current business constraints. If that’s the case, make sure you have a way to track these ideas so they can be evaluated later.
3. Percolation – Still not sure? Solicit opinions from the rest of the team. Let the idea percolate for a little while and collect this additional feedback. Use the feedback to refine the original idea. Hold a brainstorming meeting to discuss the feedback.
4. Moderation – You may want to immediately squash frivolous ideas. “We are a business gosh darn it!” But I encourage you to moderate your draconian nature and indulge some seemingly frivolous ideas if they are low cost and they enhance employee satisfaction.
5. Determination – Make the determination on each idea: Yay, Nay, or Stay. Stay means you are parking the idea for future consideration. People are usually ok with any of the three answers as long as the idea had its due consideration. What irks people is receiving no determination.
6. Communication – Once you’ve decided, communicate your decision directly to the person it came from. No matter what the determination is on this particular idea, they will be more likely to bring up ideas in the future if they received clear communication back with solid reasoning.
Success as a leader in a collaborative culture will be partially determined by how well you can decipher and decide upon the constant stream of ideas coming your way.
Yes Seymour, you can use the lunch room on Fridays for your vampire romance book club.